Mushirah proper was situated along both sides of the Bashinda River, but the Bashinda didn’t show up on a map. At the northern border of Mushirah the river terminated in a muddy mouth at the edge of the desert, three hundred miles from the sea. Mushiran farmers used up all of the Bashinda’s water before it could get out of the city. ...
After the rolling desolation of the dunes and the flat white sea of the desert the last few days, the green terraced hills around Mushirah were a jarring change of scenery. She began the long walk to the river.
These were the hills of her childhood, the terraced green and amber fields that she had run into the desert to forget. Mushirah was an isolated oasis full of fat, soft, happy people. But the sand was never more than a few hours’ walk away, and the trains and bakkies that ferried goods in and out of Mushirah were operated by skinny, hard-bitten desert people who knew how to use a knife for something other than carving up synthetic fuel bricks. Mushirah knew exactly what sort of world lay outside its grassy limits. And to Nyx, the world outside the grassy ring that offered all these soft people a sense of false security was the real world. Anything less than the desert was a dream.